By Rabiu Musa
Saturday, January 25, 2014, was indeed a memorable day in the history of Katsina State. It was a day people from all walks of life trooped to the state to honour an illustrious son, Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema, who was turbaned as the Sarkin Fulani Katsina 1 by the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir Usman.
The journey to that particular event started in July, 2010, when the Emir of Daura, in appreciation of the notable contribution of Shema to the state progress and development, conferred on him the revered title of Sarkin Yakin Hausa. This was later followed by the title of Attah-Ojah Igala of Ankpa (Kogi State) and Enyi Kwo Nwa 1 of Ezeokwe Kingdom, Enugu State.
Without being economical with the truth, Shema is a silent achiever whose name is synonymous with great achievements. In fact, he has written his name on the sands of time.
Since his assumption of office as governor of Katsina State, Shema has performed creditably well, to the extent that his opponents have lost voice to criticise him because doing so will only expose them to public ridicule; more so, that his giant strides are in public domain. Many people are living witnesses to the monumental strides of the Shema administration in all sectors.
As a testimony to his great achievements, the Shema-led administration won the Central Bank of Nigeria award for the best state in implementation of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) in 2008. It won the African Independent Television (AIT) award for the fastest growing state capital in Nigeria. It also bagged the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) award for the best performing state in the implementation of UBE projects, with a cash reward of N700 million. All these are tips of the iceberg among the numerous awards and honours received by Shema for institutionalising good governance and promoting best practices in public administration.
Shema is a governor that does not believe in subterfuge aimed at deceiving the public and creating a false impression where there is none. His doctrine of good governance is all about talking less and doing more while allowing the volume of achievements in virtually all areas of governance to speak for him. Today, the testimony of his achievements lies in the people of the state who benefitted immensely from the projects that have direct impact on their lives.
At the cost of almost a billion naira, over 10,000 families across the state have benefitted from the Katsina State government Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, aimed at providing cash support to poor households, on the condition that those households enrol and support their children’s education. Similarly, to support the almajiri , Shema has built over 70 model schools across the 34 local government areas of the state, with a total student population of 17,091. In these model schools, everything is free for the pupils, including feeding and school uniform. This contributed greatly to the upsurge in the school enrolment figure.
To support girl-child education, apart from abolishing all school fees, establishment of 34 girls’ primary schools, one in each local government area of the state, the government also ensures the provision of buses to girls across the state.
The state government also pays stipends to the students, in addition to paying for their accommodation and giving them book allowance. All these gestures are aimed at making them concentrate fully on their studies. From this programme, there is no local government in Katsina State today that does not have a medical doctor, a pharmacist, marine engineer, environmental engineer, physiotherapist, and radiologist, all sponsored by the state government.
The Shema administration has built 361 clinics in 361 wards in the state, just as it has, in collaboration with the MDGs, built 80 primary health centres. This administration has built a 250-bed orthopaedic hospital, which is being regarded as one of the best in West Africa.
Indeed, Shema has proved that for Nigeria’s economy to grow, public accountability and transparency must serve as the hallmark of governance. To achieve this, government at all levels must execute people-oriented projects without attaching strings of politics.
*Musa lives in Kofar Yandakar, Katsina